MPs set to discuss ‘hudud’ bill

Minority groups fear the growing dominance of Islam. Source: Flickr

The Malaysian parliament is set to discuss the controversial hudud bill tabled by the Islamist Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) aimed at expanding the powers of the Syariah Court. 

The bill is expected to be tabled this week by PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang in the hope of amending the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act to increase their powers to impose stiffer penalties.

Hadi said Islamic law encompassed all aspects of human life, including matters involving an individual, families, society, national and international affairs.

“So it is unfair to Islam, if hudud punishment is the amputation of hands directly, as if Islamic laws including family laws do not have to go through a fair judicial process,” the Marang MP said.

Non-Muslims fear it will lead to the implementation of hudud laws and punishments such as whipping for adultery.

Hadi claims the proposed amendments are not aimed at the implementation of hudud law.

“For the sake of seeing a solution towards the problem of crime and moral decline that the world is facing, including our beloved country Malaysia, I invite the interfaith group [the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism] to return to the holy scriptures of their respective faiths, in order to take the legal perspectives found in it and to study its comparison with Islamic law, including hudud, and its comparison with colonial-inherited laws that are not in the holy scriptures of all religions. Please show it to us,” Hadi said.

The bill will apparently specify that the increased penalties will only apply to Muslims, with tougher penalties to be imposed by the Syariah courts.

Malaysia’s opposition Parti Amanah Negara said it would table an alternative motion to the bill, according to The Star newspaper.

Amanah’s spokesman Khalid Samad told the media that the party’s amendment would be similar to the PAS bill but take a “more holistic” approach.

“The motion will also seek to improve the Syariah courts. However, it will not only focus on punishment. Our Kota Raja MP, Dr Siti Mariah Mahmud, submitted the motion to the Parliament Speaker last week,” he said.

“Everyone will find our motion easy to understand and accept. It is clear that our motion is within the framework of the Constitution,” Samad said.

“It is not just about empowering the Syariah courts by punishment but a more holistic approach.”

Several members of the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition have also expressed objections to the bill, raised the issue during the bloc’s supreme council meeting in September. The Malaysian Chinese Association deputy president Wee Ka Siong said the BN had reached agreement on the issue without giving further details.